How successful was the New Deal in the short- and long-term at achieving Roosevelt’s goals?

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In order to stabilize the economy, reform the financial system, and provide relief, jobs, and new employment opportunities for the American people during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration issued a series of experimental programs, projects, and regulations that provided help for those in need, mainly...

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In order to stabilize the economy, reform the financial system, and provide relief, jobs, and new employment opportunities for the American people during the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration issued a series of experimental programs, projects, and regulations that provided help for those in need, mainly the elderly, the unemployed, and the youth.

These programs were known as the New Deal, and they were instituted between 1933 and 1936. The most famous projects and programs were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 (NIRA), and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

To determine whether or not the New Deal was successful, we need to look at its short-term and long-term effects and answer two basic questions: Did it totally eliminate poverty and unemployment? No. Did it have a lasting impact on the economic climate of the US? Yes.

In his first hundred days of office, Roosevelt ended the Prohibition and won passage of fifteen other major laws, such as the National Industrial Recovery Act, which allowed the workers to form unions and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Despite his efforts to fulfill his mission, however, the Great Depression was still affecting the American people. Because of this, Roosevelt enacted the Second New Deal in 1935, which included much more aggressive reforms and programs. Thus, the positive short-term effects of the New Deal and the Second New Deal included:

  • The rapid creation of manual-labor jobs for the unemployed (with the help of the CWA program)
  • The establishment of the Farm Credit System, which allowed cooperating organizations to make loans for the production and marketing of agricultural products (with the help of the Farm Credit Act)
  • The establishment of the Social Security Administration, which enabled people to retire with pension
  • The government's attempts to regulate fair wages and prices, in order to stimulate the economic growth of the country (with the help of the NIRA program)

The individuals that didn’t support the New Deal argued that all the acts and programs that were enacted by Roosevelt were, in fact, short-term policies and that his administration didn’t include significant plans or changes that could improve America’s economy in the long-term. However, as history shows, there are several positive long-term effects of the New Deal and the Second New Deal as well. These include:

  • The enactment of the Social Security program, administered by the Social Security administration, which guarantees the social welfare of millions of Americans to this very day (with the help of the Social Security Act)
  • The protection of the rights of all employees and employers (with the help of the National Labor Relations Act)
  • The creation of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), which is a corporation created to insure bank deposits (with the help of the Banking Act, a.k.a. the Glass-Steagall Act)
  • The creation of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), which is an agency that oversees and regulates the US stock market (with the help of the Securities Exchange Act)
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